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'Meet your MP' public meeting

Broadband decision could hit house prices

Property prices in Clayhidon and other Blackdowns parishes could fall following news that they have been dropped from the superfast broadband programme.
Clayhidon’s chances of getting fast internet access within this decade have shrunk to zero after the parish and four other villages were reclassified as “Out of programme”.
“These villages are not even going to be surveyed to find out how difficult it is to get fibre broadband to us,” broadband campaigner Graham Long told a 'meet your MP' public meeting in Clayhidon Parish Hall on 1 August.
He said Connecting Devon & Somerset had launched its new website with broadband deployment maps down to seven-digit postcode detail. On previous maps Clayhidon, Churchstanton, Smeatharpe, Rawbridge and Upottery were all defined as “Under Evauluation – further planning and survey work will be carried out under the CDS programme.”
On the new maps, all these villages and large areas of the Blackdown Hills are now defined as “Out of programme – your postcode is not covered by our programme to get fibre broadband to 90% of premises by 2017.”
Quoting evidence from estate agents that slow internet access was affecting the saleability of homes, he told local MP Neil Parish: “These villages are not even going to be surveyed to find out how difficult it is to get fibre broadband to us.
“On the question and answers section of the new website it says ‘Some locations are so geographically remote that superfast broadband will not be possible due to technical reasons or prohibitive costs’.
He pointed out that survey work for fibre broadband will take place at Princetown, on Dartmoor, which has a telephone exchange with fewer lines than any exchange in the Blackdown Hills, at the end of next year.
Lundy Island, 12 miles off the North Devon Coast, with a resident population of 28 people, will be surveyed for fibre broadband this October.

This is not acceptable says MP
Neil Parish MP reacted strongly to the revelation that Blackdown parishes had been dropped from BT's superfast broadband programme.
"I will be straight on to BT," he said. "This is something we have to be able to check. Ministers have to be made aware of what is going on."
He added: "We have got to do something about it. This is not acceptable."
The issue is becoming especially urgent because from  next year farmers will be forced to submit their Single Farm Payment claims online, a task that will be difficult if not impossible with the current speed of broadband in Clayhidon. 
Mr Parish said he wanted to ensure we obtained value for money from BT, but trying to find out what was happening was "like extracting teeth" because Devon County Council had signed a confidentiality clause with BT.
BT was looking at other technical solutions for rural areas, he said, and it was likely that fibre optic would not be installed in all parts of the Blackdowns.


>Interactive map of broadband improvement areas.

>What the Western Morning News said about this.


Tractors and potholes worry residents

Tractors speeding through Clayhidon and the growing menace of potholes were among the issues which drew complaints from residents attending a public meeting with local MP Neil Parish on 1 August.
Lynda Higgins, landlady of the Half Moon Inn, said she was concerned about the safety of her young son caused by farm vehicles roaring past her pub. She had asked the police to take action. Other speakers agreed that some tractor drivers were going “way too fast”.
Mr Parish pointed out that lots of silage work was done by contractors. He suggested a polite letter from the parish council to all local farmers, an idea supported by the vice chairman, Sue Hay.
The spine-jarring issue of potholes occupied much of the meeting. Parish Council chairman Richard Kallaway said lots of roads were quite good but in some parts “we are driving over speed humps all the time”.
He told the story of a neighbour who had been forced to spend £2,000 replacing all four wheels and tyres on his seven month-old car because of damage by potholes.
“Generally roads were better 10 years ago by a long chalk,” he said, and he wondered why Somerset and East Devon roads were better than ours in Mid Devon.
Mr Parish replied that the number of potholes had quadrupled this year, and he knew that many were not repaired with hot tarmac, which meant they soon needed mending again.
Roads were the responsibility of the county council and Devon “has as many roads as Belgium”.  He said there was “a terrific amount to do”, but he invited the parish council to send him a list of roads it was concerned about and he would tackle the county about them.
Challenged by parish councillor Alex Hill to explain why a wealthier Britain could not afford to maintain roads as well as 40 years ago, the MP said spending on schools and health had been protected at the expense of highways. The country could not go on spending money, but the government had already cut the deficit in half.”
Richard Kallaway added that they understood the problem was money, but “there comes a time when you can’t keep patching”.